I freaking love the Budget. The Autumn Statement is pretty great too.
After weeks of fervent speculation, we finally get to find out for sure what the Chancellor has planned for the British economy and our bank balances for the coming year.
The Budget is an important event in the world of personal finance. It’s one of those rare occasions when people are genuinely engaged with financial stuff. For at least a day, attention turns to borrowing, spending, taxation and – shock, horror – pensions.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, we like to make hay from the publication of the Red Book. It’s a fantastic opportunity to deliver some real value to our existing clients and also find a whole host of new clients who want to engage with us. Here’s how we do it.
A successful Budget day is all about the preparation. For us, that means drafting a couple of new blog posts in WordPress.
The first is our Budget Live Blog. National newspapers and other media outlets do these, so why not our tiny firm of Financial Planners on the Surrey/Sussex border?
The second blog post we draft on the morning of the Budget is about our free Budget Briefing Note. For each of these blog posts, we create a suitable graphic in Canva and ensure the post is optimised so the search engines will love them to pieces. We use the Yoast SEO Premium plugin to make this happen, although even without this, WordPress is pretty good at SEO.
At the same time, we draft the outline of our ten-page Budget briefing note. This follows the same structure each year, so it fairly easy to construct. After a cover page (also created in Canva), an introduction about the authors and a page about the business, we add a page covering the economic outlook, taxation, pensions, savings, business and miscellaneous measures.
With an hour to go, we start adding speculation and general commentary to the live blog, aiming to update this with a snippet of news or opinion every 5-10 minutes. The live blog updates get a little more frequent as the Budget starts, with updates every couple of minutes when the Chancellor starts dropping his fiscal bombs.
There is also regular monitoring of Twitter, which is usually the source of some of the most knowledgeable and incisive analysis of the Budget measures as they happen. Follow the right people on Twitter and you get much better insight than the one on offer from the BBC or Sky News.
With the BBC News channel playing on a laptop, I continue updating the live blog until the minute George Osborne takes his seat. As soon as that happens, I fire up my Skype connection to the newsroom at our local radio station to give them some sound bites for their hourly bulletins.
There are a couple of phone calls from journalists looking for reaction comments to add to their articles, and then I start writing our briefing note.
We always aim to get this briefing note finished within an hour or so of the Budget. Our clients and professional contacts love that they can have a concise overview of the Budget within 60 minutes of it finishing, as they usually have to wait until the following morning for anything meaningful coming out of the big accountancy firms or pension providers.
With the briefing note written and proof-read by a colleague, it is converted to a PDF and uploaded to our website. We give it away for free to all of our clients and professional contacts who are already on our mailing lists, but others have to pay the price of an email address for the privilege. To make this happen, we use the Lead Pages system and then promote that link via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and in various other places.
With all of that done and a Facebook advertising campaign driving even more traffic to the briefing note, I take the rest of the afternoon off (it’s Wednesday and every Wednesday I knock off early to collect my eldest from school) and wait until the evening to read some more detail about the Budget measures.
When I check my inbox later that day, I have the details of around 60 prospective new clients who have read our briefing note and will need a follow-up message later in the week. Several existing clients and a handful of solicitors want to chat in more detail about a few of the items announced in the Budget, and others are simply getting in touch to say thank you for providing the briefing note so quickly.
A task for tomorrow is to plan and record a podcast episode which will go live on Friday morning, covering the personal finance measures from the Budget in greater depth, possibly answering a client question or two to bring elements of this to life.
As Financial Planners, occasions where Joe Public are focused on personal finance are few and far between. With a simple Budget workflow like this in place, a couple of hours work can pay dividends which last for months and generate tens of thousands of pounds worth of new planning fees. And tomorrow is another day packed with new opportunities.